Letter writer offers thoughts on Dozier-Libbey charter debate

Dear Editor,

I have been following the Dozier-Libbey story in the Antioch Herald and have read every article and all of the comments that have populated under each one. I have noticed that about 99% of the comments strongly support the teachers and their Independent Charter Petition.

FACT: 1. The Independent Charter Petition came first.

FACT: 2. The Independent Charter Petition was developed by teachers, not administrators and is almost twice as long as the district counter-proposal. The Independent Charter Petition provides many more details and aligns with the existing programs since it was created by the people who made Dozier-Libbey what it is today.

FACT: 3. None of the people who signed the Independent Charter Petition were coerced into signing.

FACT: 4. The Deer Valley signers of the Dependent Charter Petition from the district, who signed that they were meaningfully interested in teaching at DLMHS were promised they would NOT have to go there to teach if they signed the document. (This was related to me by a teacher who was at that meeting).

FACT:5. The Dozier-Libbey teachers have the full support of the California Charter Schools Association and their Independent Charter Petition aligns with the California Charter Schools Act.

FACT:6. Principal Nancie Castro was the top candidate, selected by a committee for her Science background, two years before the school was even built. She designed the model from the ground up and built her team. Each person was chosen from a pool of candidates because they were a good fit for the school.

FACT:7. Principal Scott Bergerhouse, the newly selected Principal for the district dependent charter, according to his bio was an English teacher and was appointed “in house” by the Superintendent and the Board, without any input from parents or community groups.

FACT:8. The whole “sports” issue has been fabricated by the AUSD since they could choose to let the Dozier-Libbey Independent Charter students continue to play sports under CIF regulations at DVHS and AHS as they do now, simply by creating a MOU (memo of understanding) between schools. By choosing not to create an MOU, they have artificially created a situation that could easily be fixed should they choose to fix it.

FACT:9. The AUSD has already given Principal Scott Bergerhouse an office at Dozier-Libbey and he was introduced to the students as their “new Principal” on a room by room tour last week, in front of the current Principal, Nancie Castro. They also posted a banner on the front of the school stating his new role.

FACT:10. The DLMHS students staged a thirty-minute walkout last week in response to the disrespect shown to Mrs. Castro by the AUSD and teachers wore black as a way of “silent protest” since they cannot talk about the charter situation with students.

FACT:11. The teachers have established a Facebook page where they welcome all comments, pro and con. As of today, most of the comments have been supportive of the teachers. The district has also created a Facebook page where several parents and students posted critical comments yet all of the comments were removed and a disclaimer now sits in their place. That is their version of transparency.

FACT:12. DLMHS Parents had established a table outside the school with a sign about signing up for the Independent Charter for next year. They were giving out forms for parents to fill out and return. They were told to remove their tables and had to go stand outside of school property on the roadside to give out their forms. Almost immediately the AUSD administration set up their own table with an expensive banner and began giving out their own forms in the location vacated by the parents. Parents were led to believe that if they did not respond by 4/7, their students would lose their spot and it would be filled by someone else on the waiting list. Due to the next hearing in superior court, that date was extended to 4/28.

It does not seem fair that parents have to stand outside school and give out their forms on the roadside when AUSD officials can do it right next to the school building. What are they afraid of? It does not seem fair that the teachers cannot talk about the charter with students provided they present both sides of the issue. Again, what are they afraid of? What happened to freedom of speech?

Andre’ Epstein

Mr. Epstein is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, a 36-year veteran teacher (23 years with AUSD) and was the AUSD Teacher of the Year 2003-2004. He most recently taught Spanish at DLMHS until retirement.

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18 Comments to “Letter writer offers thoughts on Dozier-Libbey charter debate”

  1. Arne says:

    Mr. Epstein’s comments were right on the mark!! The actions of the AUSD are not to be tolerated.

  2. Dozier Student says:

    Mr. Epstein was a great teacher! Many students really enjoyed his class and we were all upset when he left us this year! I look up to him, as do many other Dozier students! Everything that he has listed is 100% true and I have witnessed it all firsthand. The District is playing dirty and our teachers have made sure to stay above the crazy antics of the AUSD.

  3. Jim Marchetti says:

    I await the AUSD school board response – it will likely never come, but Mr. Epstein’s letter is fantastically eye-opening and reveals the actions of the school board as horrendously back-room’ish (sorry, I invent words sometimes…) and seemingly underhanded.

    My number one question to the school board is this:

    WHY? What is it that concerns the board so much that they are operating like some secretive, “black ops” unit instead of being the above-board, public entity that they should be?

    I do not understand how AUSD operates, nor any other school district – I only know that any organization that behaves like AUSD appears to be operating only makes me think they either have something to hide, or stand to lose a fair amount of money. I’m going out on a limb here, but my gut feeling is it has to do with money most of all.

    So…. AUSD board… what say you? We’re waiting… tick tock tick tock.

  4. Former Dozier Student says:

    This is fantastic!! I very much respect Mr. Epstein as a teacher and now even more so with this letter. It’s appalling how the shady actions of AUSD are completely known and displayed in articles like this one, and yet the district is still carrying on with its disgusting agenda.

  5. Elaine says:

    This is a great lesson on Gesselschaft and Gemeinschaft when describing the school board. That’s why the composition of the school board is very crucial. They can make or break a school.

    Good luck in your efforts toward a charter school.

  6. JLM says:

    I agree with every point in this letter. I have a Junior currently at DLMHS and another child who graduated last year.

    I fully support the INDEPENDENT charter. The current staff has done excellent work with this program and I hope the County will see through the AUSD’s tactics and bluster, and grant the INDEPENDENT charter petitioners the right to continue to grow this excellent school that encourages every student to perform at their best and prepares them well for a wide range of future endeavors.

    I fear what will become of the school if it is taken from a carefully chosen staff that has grown the program and handed over to a new principal and staff that are not familiar with the program and may not be as well qualified to teach in the key math and science subject areas or the unit style of study. I just don’t see it being the same school at all under those circumstances.

    I appeal to those who support the INDEPENDENT charter to speak up and save this great program! This school is a gem in the Antioch community. Let’s keep it that way! The school is not leaving Antioch when it becomes an INDEPENDENT charter, it is only leaving the control of a school board that clearly has enough other issues on its plate to deal with.

  7. April Padilla says:

    Dozier-Libbey has become a school under siege. Endless phone calls from the AUSD to parents spread misinformation and distrust. The District sends highly paid administrators down to Dozier-Libbey to drive away parents who support the teachers and bully others into believing they have to sign their children over to the District’s proposed dependent charter or lose access to Dozier-Libbey entirely. Despite their claims at the school board meetings that they don’t want to change Dozier-Libbey, and that they certainly have no intention of restaffing, the AUSD immediately removed Dozier-Libbey’s current principal in what could only be seen as a move to punish her for “losing control” of her teachers. So, the district’s first step in “keeping” the current Dozier-Libbey is to remove its leader? They further claim that their dependent charter is the one that will take into account the feelings of the community and incorporate parental input, yet this week announced a new principal for Dozier-Libbey and overnight hung a banner on the school. Do they think they are playing a game of capture the flag? Calling dibs? Staking a claim? The AUSD has continuously asserted that they are the ones who are thinking of the students, but it only takes a single visit to the Dozier-Libbey campus to see that they have come as an invading force. The district has a brought war to Dozier-Libbey and, as with any war, it is the young men and women who will pay the biggest price.

  8. Rochelle says:

    Thank you Mr. Epstein. I am a parent of a current Dozier Libbey student and my whole family fully supports the Dozier Libbey Teachers and their Independent Conversion Charter. We need to save this curriculum from getting into the hands of those who will destroy it as it will not be the same school under the districts dependent status. Furthermore, vote out the 5 Antioch School Board Members who approved the districts petition. They have not done their job and need to go. PARENTS DO NOT LET THE AUSD GET AWAY WITH THIS BEHAVIOR!

    We proudly support our Dozier Libbey teachers! We proudly support the Independent Charter!

  9. Dozier first graduate says:

    Mrs. Castro build dozier a foundation off of what she thought would be the perfect school. And the school shouldn’t be taken away from her in the way it is being done. As a first graduate, my class of 2012 experience all sorta of fun times with helping Casteo establish the little things about the school. Like the schedule and the bell system. Not sure if everyone remembers. But hearing a heartbeat, a cow bell, and an EKG machine beat for class change will deftly be a memory never forgotten. If the school district starts making the decisions for the school and not the teacher and staff members like they ALWAYS have, dozier won’t be the same and will eventually fall into the “typical” high school roll ontop if taking away Castro’s dreams of the best school Antioch as seen.

  10. Dylan Howell says:

    Mr. Epstein – I will assume your mistakes are just that – mistakes – and not outright fabrications. However, since there are mistakes, please allow me to provide another viewpoint to at least a few of your “Facts.”

    Fact 2: The Dependent charter was developed with some input from teachers. And what does length have to do with quality?

    Fact 3: None of the signers of the Dependent Charter were coerced. Furthermore, the teachers who did not sign the Dependent Charter were also not ostracized by their peers.

    Fact 4: The teachers who signed the Independent Charter do not have to teach at Dozier either. Signing an intent to charter merely expresses a “meaningful interest” in applying to a charter once it is approved. If the current teachers at Dozier are so intent on teaching for an Independent Charter, why didn’t they also submit letters of resignation to AUSD, thus saving many of their peers from getting pink slips (as mandated by Ed. Code)?

    Fact 7: Describing the appointment of Mr. Bergerhouse as “in-house” and “without any input from parents or community groups” is the pot calling the kettle black. How many parents and community groups did the teachers who created the Independent Charter elicit input from before submitting their petition?

    Fact 8: Why would AUSD even consider allowing another district’s students to participate in our sports program? Why would AHS or DVHS allow a student from another district to take a spot on a team that rightfully belongs to a student who attends AHS or DVHS?

    Fact 11: Although none of my comments were profane or slanderous, they were critical – which is why, I assume, I was blocked from posting comments or questions on the Independent Charter Facebook page. In this respect, at least, the teachers of Dozier are no better than the administrators of AUSD.

    • John Mooney says:

      In response to Fact #8, the reason that AUSD should allow athletes to participate is because these athletes and their parents pay taxes in their areas just as much as the other students’ families. As far as ‘taking a spot’, they would need to try out just as they always have. We’re all still part of the district.
      Why punish the kids who have nothing to do with this decision? At the very least, they could be grandfathered in.

  11. Jordan S says:

    The parents with the table set up to gather signatures, should have flat refused to move out to the road. Make them call police. I get so tired of governing entities forgetting their place, which is to serve the tax-paying public, not be served by them. I get so sick of reading stories of governing bodies using deception, intimidation, threats, force, to out-maneuver and dismiss the will of the people acting in good faith. The parents have the strength of numbers, so organize, and picket the school, put up a bigger banner shaming the new principal, surround and rally the AUSD office in loud protest, with news media, set up a table there to gather petitions to recall the superintendent and school board members. Don’t just complain about unfairness, do something! This is your school, your town, your country.

  12. Dozier Libbey parent says:

    Mr. Epstein,
    That about sums it up in a nutshell. Thank you! Go Independent Charter! The Antioch Community supports this even if the District doesn’t!

  13. Terry says:

    There must be some illegal procedure violations by Antioch Unified! I have never seen a banner attached to a school to welcome a principal, especially an appointed one that should not be there at all! The current principal, Nancie Castro, should not loose her job after all the hard work she did making Dozier Libbey the success that it is! How can the district get away with bringing any Principal classroom to classroom during teaching time? AUSD Superintendent should loose his or her job for harassment of all the teachers and students! I hope the county will support the current staff and not let the Antioch School District get away with their unfair antics! Not fair to treat current staff with such disrespect! Shameful! Teachers that do good works should be supported! I hope parents refuse to support a district take over! What is the reason for removing a good Principal and appointing another before the end of the year? This makes no sense, the District is out of control.
    *Good Luck to the Dozier Libbey Independent Conversion Charter!

  14. Dozier Parent for the Independent Charter says:

    Thank you Senor Epstein for your truthful and factual letter! Our family supports the Independent Charter petition and the teachers who have submitted it. The Independent Charter petition is thorough and extensive. The Sweet 16 list that was posted in a previous article is impressive and I can’t wait to see these programs implemented!

  15. Dozier-Libbey Parent says:

    I have a few clarifications and questions for Dylan Howell -

    Fact 2: The Dependent Charter petition that I read was brief and vague and covered generalities. The quality was in the grammar, but not content and did not compare to the Independent Charter petition. And if the Dependent Charter petition is of such high quality, then why has it been removed from the AUSD website and Facebook page?

    Fact 7: Who is calling the kettle black? Let’s ask the same question of you – How many parents and community groups did you and the AUSD Admin. who created the Dependent Charter elicit input from before submitting your petition?

    At the March 19 Special Meeting at John Muir Elementary, Board Member Joy Motts asked Assistant Superintendent Keith Rogenski to explain the hiring process for the Dependent Charter. Keith Rogenski stated that there are selective criteria of how employees can be reassigned. “None of these criteria affect any employees of DLMHS.” He further stated that it is the full intent of the District to retain all DLMHS staff at that site next year if the Dependent Charter is approved. – from the AUSD Board of Education Minutes – March 19, 2014 and in the Dependent Charter Presentation at Deer Valley it was presented that the Dependent Charter petition was filed to “expand the opportunities for parental involvement in the direct management of the school.” So where was the parental involvement when naming the new Principal? Where was the transparency?

    Fact 8: Why would AUSD deny a child who lives within the AUSD boundaries and has parents who pay taxes that fund facilities at the high schools, where there has already been a precedence set in other districts with Independent charters, deny a student from playing on a team, especially one where there is a shortage of qualified players?

    Fact 11: I can’t speak to your being blocked from the Independent Charter page, but I do know I have never seen a post from you on that page. I also know that there are many opposing posts on that page from people who continue to post there.

    And thank you Mr. Epstein for this very informative letter.

    • Dozier-Libbey Parent says:

      Correction – Fact 7 should have stated that the Dependent Charter presentation was at Dozier-Libbey.

  16. Julie says:

    Thank you for your great article. My entire family supports Dozier-Libbey Independent Medical High School. We stand united with the teachers in making this become a reality. My children’s education is too important to me and their future to sit and do nothing. I owe it to them and all the other students in Antioch to fight for what is right. I support the teachers at Dozier-Libbey and thank you Mr. Epstein for taking the time to write this article.

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